England international Ted Hill and Harlequins playmaker Marcus Smith are two of a nine-strong contingent to return for a second World Rugby U20 Championship after head coach Steve Bates named a squad laden with experience for the 2019 tournament in Argentina. 

Hill (pictured) became one of the 650-plus players to have graduated from the U20 Championship to the ranks of test rugby when he won his first and only cap to date in the November international against Japan at Twickenham, just five months after playing alongside his peers in international age-grade rugby's marquee competition. In total 44 players have graduated through the competition to play for England.

Meanwhile, having narrowly missed out on the senior team tour to South Africa last June, Smith lit up last year's tournament with some scintillating displays and scored 41 points as England reached their sixth consecutive final. 

Hill and Smith are joined by six other members of that class of 2018 – prop Joe Heyes, second-row Joel Kpoku, back-row forwards Josh Basham, Aaron Hinkley and Tom Willis and centre Fraser Dingwall, while Exeter Chiefs prop Marcus Street has experience of the 2017 tournament.

Unique experience

“Choosing 28 players from the 45 we have capped this season has been incredibly tough, so it’s a pretty good achievement for these players to be selected for the tournament and they should be incredibly proud of their inclusion," said Bates.

“The U20 Championship gives them a chance to pit themselves against the best players in the world at their own age group in an international competition before heading into senior rugby, so is an important stage in their development.

“For a lot of these players it will be a unique experience to go to Argentina and play in a tournament of this stature and I know they will be relishing the challenge. They are very lucky to be representing England and will be looking to do their country proud and continue our successful history in the competition.

“We were slightly disappointed with our consistency during the Six Nations and we know we have a lot of work to do, but we have a very good and experienced group of players and if we can keep them fit then we feel we are going to be very competitive in Argentina.”

Pool B sees 2018 runners-up England face Ireland (4 June), Italy (8 June) and Australia (12 June).  

England squad:

Forwards: Olly Adkins, Alfie Barbeary, Josh Basham, Richard Capstick, Alex Coles, Nic Dolly, Joe Heyes, Ted Hill, Aaron Hinkley, Joel Kpoku, Samson Ma'asi, Kai Owen, Alfie Petch, Marcus Street, Rusiate Tuima, Tom Willis.

Backs: Tom de Glanville, Fraser Dingwall, Connor Doherty, Ollie Fox, Josh Hodge, Sam Maunder, Cameron Redpath, Arron Reed, Tom Seabrook, Ollie Sleightholme, Marcus Smith, Manu Vunipola.